Social Security: Bibliography

The History of Social Security
United States Social Security Administration.

This site presents the history of the Social Security program and the institutional history of the Social Security Administration (SSA) and its contribution to welfare of the American public. It contains a vast collection of oral histories, audio recordings, and primary documents of SSA. Visitors should first check out the detailed historical chronology of the development of the Social Security program for important dates and events. The “Quick Intro,” which includes three brief histories of SSA ranging in length from two to 30 pages, also offers a good orientation. A fascinating feature is the sound and video clip section that includes radio debates on the merits of the Social Security program taped during 1935, Lyndon B. Johnson’s remarks on the passage of the Medicare bill in 1965, and Ronald Reagan’s remarks at the signing of the Social Security Amendments of 1983. Also available are Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon’s recorded telephone conversations that reference Social Security and Medicare. Another notable feature is the 15 oral history interviews conducted by SSA in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The texts of the interviews range from 23 pages to 141 pages. Other oral history collections not produced by the SSA are also featured on this site, and they provide information about the 1977 creation of Health Care Financing Administration and policy issues involving the Medicare and Social Security programs. These interviews are presented in text and/or RealAudio format. This site contains a massive amount of information that might seem daunting to novices; however, instructors and researchers will find a thoughtful archive with valuable resources.

New Deal Network
Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute and Institute for Learning Technologies, Teachers College, Columbia University.

A database of more than 20,000 items relating to the New Deal. A “Document Library” contains more than 900 newspaper and journal articles, speeches, letters, reports, advertisements, and other textual materials, treating a broad array of subjects relevant to the period’s social, cultural, political, and economic history, while placing special emphasis on New Deal relief agencies and issues relating to labor, education, agriculture, the Supreme Court, and African Americans. The “Photo Gallery” of more than 5,000 images is organized into five units—“Culture,” “Construction,” “Social Programs,” “Federal Agencies,” and miscellaneous, including photos from 11 exhibitions and five series of photoessays, and images of disaster relief and public figures. The site additionally offers featured exhibits, many with lesson plan suggestions. The features section includes “The Magpie Sings the Depression,” a collection of 193 poems, articles, and short stories, and 275 graphics from a Bronx high school journal published between 1929 and 1941 with juvenile works by novelist James Baldwin, photographer Richard Avedon, cultural critic Robert Warshow, and film critic Stanley Kauffmann; “Dear Mrs Roosevelt” with selected letters written by young people to the first lady; “Student Activism in the 1930s,” which contains 38 photographs, graphics, and editorial cartoons, 12 American Student Union memoirs, 40 autobiographical essays, and a 20,000-word essay by Robert Cohen on 1930s campus radicalism; 17 selected interviews from American slave narratives gathered by the Works Progress Administration; and an illustrated essay on the history and social effects of the Tennessee Valley Authority. Includes approximately 100 annotated links to related sites. Of great value for teachers, students, and researchers interested in the social history of the New Deal era.

America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA-OWI, 1935–1945
American Memory, Library of Congress.

This site features more than 160,000 images taken by government photographers with the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and the Office of War Information (OWI) during the New Deal and World War II eras. These images document the ravages of the Great Depression on farmers, scenes of everyday life in small towns and cities, and, in later years, mobilization campaigns for World War II. This site includes approximately 1,600 color photographs and selections from two extremely popular collections: “’Migrant Mother’ Photographs” and “Photographs of Signs Enforcing Racial Discrimination.” The site also provides a bibliography, a background essay of about 500 words, seven short biographical sketches of FSA-OWI photographers, links to seven related sites, and three essays on cataloging and digitizing the collection. The photographs are searchable by keyword and arranged into a subject index.

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936–1940
American Memory, Library of Congress.

This site features approximately 2,900 life histories from 1936–1940 written by the staff of the Folklore Project of the Federal Writers' Project for the U.S. Works Progress (later Work Projects) Administration (WPA). Documents represent the work of more than 300 writers from 24 states. The histories, in the form of drafts and revisions, vary from narrative to dialogue, report, or case history. A typical history describes an informant’s family, education, income, occupation, political views, religion and mores, medical needs, diet, and other observations on society and culture. Interviewers often substituted pseudonyms for names of individuals and places. The Special Presentation, “Voices from the Thirties”—adapted in part from the book First Person America by Ann Banks and illustrated with photographs of the Project’s staff at work, interviewees, and their environments—provides the context for the creation of the Life Histories Collection and includes excerpts from sample interviews. Visitors can select a particular U.S. state or search the archive by keyword. Life histories are presented in facsimiles of original interview documents and as searchable text. This multifaceted collection provides materials for teaching subjects such as slavery and 19th-century American folk cultures as well as social history of the Great Depression.

Our Documents
National Archives and Records Administration, National History Day, and USA Freedom Corps.

A cooperative effort, this website is an online repository of 100 milestone primary documents in American history. The first document is the Richard Henry Lee Resolution of June 7, 1776, proposing independence for the American colonies. The last is the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In between, visitors will find Eli Whitney’s 1794 cotton gin patent, the 1862 Pacific Railway Act, and the 1896 Plessy vs. Ferguson ruling. There is a full-page scan and transcription of each document. In addition to the chronological list of 100 documents, the site includes a “People’s Vote” top-ten list. Of the 100 documents, Americans voted the Declaration of Independence number one, while the 1935 Social Security Act came in tenth. The site offers resource tools for educators and librarians on how to integrate the milestone documents into their classrooms.

FDR Cartoon Archive
Niskayuna High School, New York.

A continuing project of high school history and science classes, this site presents thousands of political cartoons concerning the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Selected from the collection at the Hyde Park Presidential Library of Basil O’Conner—Roosevelt’s New York City law partner—the materials are arranged into eight subject categories and often include brief background essays and questions designed to prompt further inquiries. Periods currently emphasized include 1932, “The Road to Pennsylvania Avenue”; 1937, “The Supreme Court”; and 1943, “The War Years.” Well-conceived and executed, the site also gives the texts of Roosevelt’s inaugural addresses and a page of teacher resources and suggested projects.